USG Senator resigns

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A United Student Government (USG) senator has resigned after violating the Code of Ethics outlined in the USG constitution.

Freshman sports, arts and entertainment management (SAEM) major Brennen Burke submitted his resignation to USG last week after sources say he was taken by ambulance to a local hospital from a Feb. 6 party in Oakland.

“I honestly cannot tell anyone why I did that,” Burke said in a phone interview Sunday. “I don’t remember anything from that night whatsoever. I remember walking into the house, lying down in a chair, watching some people play beer pong, and that’s it. Then I woke up at the hospital at like four in the morning.”

Members of USG, including freshman senator representing the School of Arts and Sciences Amedea Baldoni, were made aware of Burke’s actions the next day.

Baldoni said she received complaints from students about Burke’s conduct at the party and notified USG President Blaine King.

USG called an emergency meeting Feb. 7 to discuss the actions of the senator.

USG President Pro Tempore, Shayna Mendez, said the meeting was called to sort through the evening’s events, which included reports of the senator directing racial slurs toward others at the party, some of whom were students.

Mendez said USG does not tolerate this type of behavior and the topic of impeachment was brought up at the meeting.

“We were concerned about the hospital trip, but we didn’t know the full extent as to why he ended up in the hospital,” Mendez said after Monday’s USG meeting. “It all came out later on that he had gone to this party, had gotten severely intoxicated, and in his severely intoxicated state, he was spouting racial slurs.”

If USG decided to have an impeachment hearing, both sides would have one week to gather facts and testimony. Burke decided to forgo an impeachment trial and submitted his resignation letter the following day.

“Some things might have been said,” Burke said. “I’m not really 100 percent sure of what I said. I don’t remember anything. I mean, if I did say anything, I didn’t mean anything that I said because I was under the influence.”

According to USG sources, the incident was reported to and handled by Point Park Student Life.

Burke said he is changing his actions going forward.

“I want to try and change my attitude,” Burke said. “I do realize this wasn’t my only mistake. I did make mistakes in the past, but this was the biggest one that I have made. I’m not blaming anyone else for the decisions I made on Saturday night — those were totally on my own. I’m not blaming anyone. I can only blame myself for what happened that night.”

Mendez said USG had previous discussions with Burke about his conduct with other students.

“He’s very strongly opinionated,” Mendez said. “There’s nothing wrong with that, but the way he presented his opinions and the way he dealt with other students’ opinions were less-than favorable. As a USG senator, you have to learn how to present your opinion in a way that won’t offend people. But this one instance was something that could not be tolerated at all.”

Burke said he is changing his habits and wants to make things right.

He said he has started to go back to church, attends weekly meetings of The Body Christian Fellowship and has a new job with ELF Entertainment, where he agreed to frequent alcohol and drug testing.

The freshman is still eligible to run in future USG elections.

“I’m trying to branch out to try to find my place and try to get better before I get back to USG,” Burke said. “It might not be next semester; it may be junior year. I just want to try and get better for myself.”

King said after Monday’s USG meeting that the group worked quickly to take care of the situation.

“We try to take care of everything as professionally as possible,” King said. “We want everything to be taken care of quickly and in the right manner so there are no issues that can further the problem. We took appropriate action, went through every option, and when it came down to it, the senator resigned.”